Selection Process

Selection Process for CHS Freshman Academy Candidates
Students are not placed into the Freshman Academy—enrollment is a voluntary choice based on a nomination and invitation.

In late winter, the Academy Team corresponds with the 8th Grade Teams at Skyridge and Liberty Mid-Schools. The 8th grade teams develop a list of Academy nominees based on the following rather loose criteria:
• Demonstrated skills in core courses
• The need for strong teacher-to-student relationship to facilitate success
• Possible academic performance which has not represented actual skills
• Possible skills gaps in literacy or mathematics
• Possible organization or self-advocacy gaps
• Possible tendency to “fade into the woodwork” or “slip through the cracks” in large, busy classes
• The tendency to thrive even more than the average student when placed in an environment in which they feel safe, trust their authority figures, and have a connection to classmates and teachers.

After the nomination list is compiled, parents are contacted by mail, and the members of the Academy Team and the CHS administration visit both Skyridge and Liberty to inform the nominees about their opportunity to enroll in the Freshman Academy. At this point, students may remove themselves from the nominee list if the program does not interest them.

Once the Academy Team has met with the students, the list is revised to remove students who indicated their desire to be removed. Then, parents are invited to CHS for an informational meeting at which point they can ask questions, inform their decision-making, and better understand the specifics of the program. At this point, also, parents can opt to decline their student’s nomination. As a general rule, the student’s interest is given precedence over the parent’s interest—if a student does not wish to participate, but the parent wishes it, the Academy Team tends to prefer enrolling a student who desires to participate.

At this point, if the list has not been reduced below the maximum of 88 slots, the Academy Team must pursue means of reducing the nominee list. Occasionally, this involves re-connecting with the 8th grade teams to enlist their knowledge of the students to then remove students who perhaps possess the skills to naturally transition to high school more effectively than others. Also, the Academy team uses "priority rankings" that are generated by mid-school staff in order to help us determine which candidates are the best fit. If need be, the Academy Team may conduct face-to-face, telephone, or written interviews with students.

Candidates are not immediately removed due to high or low academic performance in the 8th grade, nor are they immediately removed for having a discipline history—provided this is not history of jeopardizing the safety and learning of fellow students.

Finally, 88 invitations to enroll are issued. Typically this happens by late April, but some years has occured as early as the first week in March, depending on forecasting schedules. All students who were not able to be enrolled are immediately placed on a waiting list. If, over the summer, any of the 88 students move away or decline the invitation to enroll, students from the waiting list will be contacted and invited to enroll in the Academy.

Also, because one goal of the Academy is to foster a supportive learning community, during the school year, students who are detrimental to the learning community may be removed from the Academy. This happens rarely, but has happened a few times during the the Academy program. The teaching staff works very hard to prevent such an expulsion, but sometimes removal from the community is the best decision for both the individual and the community as a whole. At this point, students from the waiting list may be invited to join the program, though this also is a rarity, since this may upset the learning community that has been established.

KEY DETAILS:

The Freshman Academy curriculum is college-prep and non-remedial. Individual support is facilitated by our smaller class sizes and the extra support period team-taught by the math, English, and careers teachers. Students with skills deficits are welcome, but significant remedial curriculum is not offered. 

The Freshman Academy is not a homework club. While students may occasionally recieve time to complete homework or study for upcoming assessments, the focus of this time is not to give students in-school time to complete homework. Rather, this time is used to help students develop effective and efficient homework and study skills that they can apply in future classes.

The Freshman Academy is not a behavior remediation program either; it is not for students who “don't play school well." However, students should not be excluded because of minor discipline history. Academy is for students who did not reach their full potential before High School and want to commit to doing better in High School and beyond. The key to success in the Academy is the learning community—if a student has a track record of consistently disrupting their learning community, despite any and all teacher efforts, the Academy may not be the best placement for them. We leave this to the judgment of the 8th grade teams since they know the student in a learning context.

The Freshman Academy welcomes students served by special education services, provided that they are still able to enroll in whatever classes or supports are required by law outside of their Academy schedule.

The Freshman Academy does not limit a student’s future academic track. We have past students who have moved on to Pre-AP and AP English, AP Biology, AP History, and upper-division elective mathematics. Many strong students have benefited from the one-on-one support and community of learning provided by the Academy, and have therefore been able to establish a strong foundation for superior educational experiences in the higher grades.